Peter replied, "Remember, we have left everything to be
your followers! What will we get?" (Matthew 19:27, CEV)
It is so
easy to start bad habits. They can be formed instantly, it seems to me. If a
risky action feels good, it can become routine after only one experience.
habits are counterproductive to healthy, happy, spiritual living.
to the ease with which bad habits can be formed, research indicates that it
takes about three weeks of daily practice to form one new positive habit.
beginning of the current church season of Lent, some of us decided to let go
of bad habits. Others decided to form new, positive habits.
story can put the season in perspective.
tells us that a rich young ruler went to Jesus, hoping to be advised on what
he still needed to do to attain eternal life and reporting on the good
practices he already followed. Yet Jesus could perceive his attachment to
his money and material things. So he told the man to sell all that he had,
give the proceeds to the poor, and follow him.
man walked away.
told his disciples that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of
a needle than for rich people to get into God’s Kingdom.
disciples were shocked. How could anyone then be saved?
about them? They had left everything to follow Jesus. Had their sacrifice
been for nothing?
to Jesus, "Look, we’ve left everything and followed you. What will we have?"
question demonstrates that Peter had not been changed at the core of his
our concern for what we have or what we have given up betrays the reality
that we, too, have not given away all of ourselves. Have we made a pact
merely to gain something material? Obsessive self-concern demonstrates keen
of the journey of Lent is the process of discovery. Most people have a high
capacity for self-deception. We do the right things for the wrong reasons,
yet we tell ourselves that we are acting for the right reasons.
How can you
know the difference between the two? If you are concerned for what you might
lose or get after you have made a sacrifice, you have not really made much
of Lent and spiritual disciplines is not to propel you further along the
road to perfection. The journey through Lent teaches you to depend on God.
It is not about triumph in sacrifice or the formation of new habits. When
dependence on God is your objective, you are not concerned with how far
along the spiritual path you travel.
assured the disciples that anyone who has left things to follow him will
have eternal life. Then he added, "But many who are first will be last. And
many who are last will be first."
So, what is
your objective? As for me, I hope that concern for what I may lose or get
will be least important and that my foremost desire is to depend on God.